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Re the road: it is not open to tourists, at the moment the only route open to tourists is to take the ferry. There is talk of the road being opened to tourists soon, but that is talk that has been going on for years and still the road is closed to us, so don't hold you breath!
We just came from Wadi Halfa to Aswan. Mazar (Mr Fixit in Wadi Halfa - phone +249 122 380 740) tells me it's slightly cheaper going from Sudan to Egypt than the other way around, but I'll tell you the prices we paid anyway.
The prices were as follows: $66 per person 1st class cabin. (In my mind well worth the extra cost if you're a couple travelling - you get a private room with 2 bunks and A/C. 2nd class you have to fight it out with a million travellers for deck space, and can get very hot in the sun. If you go 2nd class take a tarp or tent so you can get some shade)
Departure tax: $9 per person
Customs tax: $16
Port tax: Dependant on the weight of your vehicle. Will be between $20 (car), $30 (4x4), $60 (truck)
Barge ticket for vehicle: $313 (was supposed to be for a larger than normal barge to take our truck, which won't fit on the normal barge)
At the moment our truck is still in Wadi Halfa waiting for the barge... all a bit of a nightmare as the large barge to take our truck over the lake didn't arrive in Wadi Halfa, and of course in the interim our visa expired! So we ended up leaving the truck in Sudan with the local fixer (Mazar) and taking the ferry by ourselves here to Aswan. We arrived on Thursday, and are hoping the truck will get onto a barge next Wednesday... all a bit scary, I feel totally powerless being in a different country. Anyway, apparently this happens all the time, so we're just holding thumbs and waiting to see what happens.
If I can now hijack your thread to ask a question of my one...
Is anyone travelling with trucks crossing Lake Nasser in the near future? (north or south) It seems the reason the barge didn't come to pick our truck up was because there wasn't enough cargo for it to make to trip to Wadi Halfa. It would have come just for us if we were willing to pay $6000, but, well... we weren't willing to cough that up! Now I'm hoping to find other overlanders who will need to make use of the large barge in the near future - then we can make a plan together.
My local no in Egypt is +20 (0) 1826 42584 if anyone wants to get in contact, otherwise get in touch through the HUBB or email me through my blog's Contact Us page - OverAfrica - overland, over Africa
Hope this helps, and also, someone can help me!
Swedesontour just blogged - they are teaming up with a German couple with a truck (who had been waiting three weeks since there was no large barge) and a bunch of other people. The large barge actually left this morning, going your way. Swedes On Tour
We are hoping to get the barge at the end of the month, 2 weeks from today. Going Aswan to Wadi Halfa. Trying to organise it through Midhat Mahir, but he has never responded to my emails. When I call him, he knows who I am and everything... so I'm kind of just hoping something is happening on that end =/
Thanks priffe. Spoke to some guys from Pangbourne Africa Home last night who put their cars on yesterday. The barge left last night, and the ferry this morning... good news for me! There were 7 vehicles going on a large Ro-Ro ferry. What a relief, being stuck in Aswan for 10 days separated from our truck sucks (although it's better than the 5 days we bush-camped in the desert outside Wadi Halfa - THAT was boring!)
Is this for getting OFF the ferry on the Sudanese side? In that case, Midhat et al are the guys you want, although Midhat is based in Khartoum, where he will be unable to help you much more than passing on your details to Mazar, his brother/nephew/cousin (I forget which), who is based in Wadi Halfa. It's probably best to email Mazar directly (email@example.com, or call on +249 122 380 740). That said I've never had much success with Mazar responding to emails, but he's good at phone calls! Anyway, Mazar will meet you at the docks when the ferry and/or barge arrives and help you through immigration, unloading your vehicle and getting it through customs.
I've heard many people say it's probably unnecessary to use their services, as if you've survived Egyptian bureaucracy then Sudanese will be a walk in the park. Things you need to pay: Port tax (based on weight of vehicle, about $25 to $30 for a 4x4), Customs Tax ($16). That's it... no Local Tax or any other fees. If you use Mazar then about $15 per car is regarded as a suitable fee. Obviously they'll ask for more, even $15 is high in my mind when all they're doing is helping you get your passport and carnet stamped - hardly rocket science!
If you're looking for someone to help you with arranging getting your vehicle on the barge, you'll need someone from the Egyptian side.
For that you can contact Mr Salah who is the ticket office manager for the Nile Valley River Navigation Company which owns and runs the ferry and the barges (I've got a few numbers for him, not sure which are correct: 099 2303348, 097 303348, 097 262736 or 097 322736 (like I said, a few numbers!) You can also fax him on 097 303 801
There's also another guy, Mohamed Abouda, who speaks good English and should be able to help you on the Aswan side: firstname.lastname@example.org, phone +20125111968
Wow Steve. Great info, thank you very much for that.
I just talked to Midhat again, he said he had been forwarding the emails to his brother in Wadi Halfa. He also said his uncle was just in an accident and died, which is why he hasn't been able to reply. Very sad really.
I'm glad I have a direct line to his brother now though. I was also told Midhat had the contact on the Egyptian side too, which is most likely Mr Salah. Meant to be a guy with a crazy driver to take you between Aswan and the port. Either way, good to know a direct link there also. I am very indebted to you.
The crazy driver is Kamal - he has a taxi here in Aswan and his no is 0121393492. He's very useful if you're arriving in Aswan, as to get your vehicle cleared through customs involves driving from the port to Aswan town (15kms away) and back.
Edit: Actually, thinking about it, he's probably really useful anyway, coz it's quite an involved process!
1. Go to the ferry terminal to get the Carnet stamped. You have to pay £40E for Customs to issue a letter to the Ministry of Transport Licensing Office.
2. Take stencils of your chassis an engine numbers and place them on the form to the Ministry of Transport Licensing Office, hand in at Traffic Police MOT centre between the ferry terminal and Aswan. This costs £20E and takes a long time and must be done in the morning as they close at mid-day.
3. Get Vehicle insurance at the Ministry of Transport Licensing Office in Aswan. (£500E for a 2lt engine.) This costs the same for 1 day up to 3 months?
4. Go inside to pay £1E for a form to insert the Egyptian Licence plate number on.
5. Outside and round to the side to the License plate office where you pay £5E to be issued with the licence details.
6. Go back into the main hall and give them the plate details and pay for the paper work required to be issued with the plates.
7. Return to the License plate office around the side of the building to get your plates.
8. Go to the ferry terminal where you fit your new plates.
9. When exiting you have to pay overnight parking fees (£20E per night) and they will search your car. In fact they will probably want to put all of the bags through the x-ray machine which is 100m away. Tell them to go ahead, don't help. This will deter them in taking all bags, and they will probably just hand search a few.
When we got to Wadi Halfa, there was no barge big enough to take our truck. We had to leave Sudan because our visas expired, so left our truck with Mazar, who assured us our home on wheels was in safe hands. 2 long and frustrating weeks later our truck finally arrived in Egypt!
Now for the shocker. Some overlanders who caught the passenger ferry a week after we did said they'd seen our truck being driven around Wadi Halfa! When our truck arrived the fuel tank was half as full as it was when we left it with Mazar! I wish I'd taken note of the mileage, but I didn't so don't know quite how far it was driven around, but it makes me mad that Mazar used my truck for personal use at all!
For this reason, I would suggest if you need a fixer in Wadi Halfa, only use Magdi. There are 2 companies operating in Wadi Halfa - Nubatia (operated by Magdi) and Mashan Sharti (operated by Mazar and Midhat). I'm sorry to say that in my experience Mazar cannot be trusted. I know many people have not any issues with him, but generally speaking most people have only had to leave their car with him overnight, as they catch the ferry on Wednesday and Mazar loads their car onto the barge on Thursday.
So Magdi's contact details are: email@example.com and his phone no is +249 121730885 or +249 122262060
I hope this helps someone have a better experience than we did!
Dealing with customs etc for getting your vehicle into Egypt is a real pain, and in my opinion, well worth the $15 you pay a fixer to arrange everything for you.
From what I can ascertain there are 2 fixers in Aswan, Kamal and Mohamed. We used Kamal and had a terrible time, only because he could hardly speak a word of English! Mohamed's level of English is far far better, and for that reason I'd advise using him. We were unable to communicate with any of the officials at all, and had we had a fixer who could speak both English and Arabic, would have had a far easier time.
Another thing. Kamal (obviously) tries to charge more for his services, but $15 is all your should pay. He says his charges are $15 for a bike, $20 for a car and $30 for a truck. I think this is ridiculous as the amount of work required is exactly the same, regardless of the size of the vehicle! Trying to explain this to him was fruitless, his English is insufficient and my Arabic is non-existent! Anyway, we only paid him $15.
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